Welcome to your match thread for a Thursday night match-up between Orlando City (7-12-1, 22 points) and New York City FC (12-4-4, 40 points) at Yankee Stadium. It’s the third and final scheduled meetings between the two 2015 MLS expansion rivals this season, and the only meeting in Orlando. It’s also Orlando City’s first Thursday night match.
The Lions are coming off a frustrating 3-2 loss at Columbus on Saturday, in a match marred by a referee decision that was admittedly faulty. Orlando is 5-4-1 at Orlando City Stadium this season, won its last home game, and will look to make it two straight wins at the purple palace. City will be up against a New York City side that is 2-4-3 away from Yankee Stadium in 2018 and 0-4-2 in its last six road matches. The Pigeons, however, have won their last three straight games — all at home.
Orlando City is 5-4-2 in the all-time series, with a 3-1-1 mark at home. The Lions have lost the last three overall meetings in the series, including the last one at Orlando City Stadium in 2017. Orlando has been outscored 8-0 on aggregate in those three matches. Not optimal.
The most recent meeting was a 3-0 New York City FC win in Yankee Stadium on June 2. The Lions rattled the woodwork three times in the game but were unable to find the net, including on Sacha Kljestan’s missed penalty. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored a brace and Maxi Moralez added an insurance marker. The first match-up this season saw the Lions gift two goals off turnovers in their own defensive third, resulting in a 2-0 loss on March 17. Tajouri-Shradi and Moralez were the beneficiaries of those turnovers.
The most recent meeting in Orlando was the last of three in 2017, with NYCFC winning 3-0 last May 21. That was Orlando’s first home loss in Orlando City Stadium and it kept the Lions from sweeping the 2018 season series. David Villa scored twice in that match, opening the scoring from the spot after Kaká was whistled for a handball in the box. Rodney Wallace also scored for NYCFC. The prior match-up was a 2-1 win for Orlando with Cyle Larin staking the Lions to a 2-0 lead before a Villa response off a set piece threw the hosts a lifeline. In fact, Larin scored all of Orlando’s goals in the series last year, netting the game-winner in the first match ever at Orlando City Stadium, a 1-0 win by the Lions on opening day. So...no Lion has scored a goal against the Citizens except Larin since 2016.
Orlando City went 1-1-1 against NYC in 2015 and 2-0-1 in 2016.
Midfielder/defender Alexander Ring has been a dominant player in this series over the last two years and is the main reason the Lions can’t put the ball in the net against New York City lately. Rarely can Orlando even challenge NYC’s center backs because of Ring’s breakup play. That’s a puzzle that the Lions must solve if they’re going to score a goal in this series, let alone win a game. That said, the attack has looked better under James O’Connor and Dom Dwyer will be rested after sitting out Saturday night’s match. Look for Kljestan and Yoshimar Yotún to try to pick out Dom’s runs, and look for Orlando’s striker to create space for Chris Mueller and others running into the penalty area.
The Lions haven’t had to deal much with Villa in recent meetings but that hasn’t hindered New York City. Tajouri-Shradi has been Tajouri-shredding the Orlando back line the last two matches as part of his eight-goal season so far. OCSC’s back line and defensive midfield must do a better job against quick attacks and counters than it did in the first two meetings.
Jonathan Spector (hamstring) and Lamine Sané (quad) are out for Orlando, although Sané has started training off to the side this week. Goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. (ankle) is day to day but even if he’s fit enough to dress I’d expect Joe Bendik to get the nod. Justin Meram hasn’t trained this week because of reasons.
New York City FC lists Angel Herrera (ankle) and Cedric Hountondji (hamstring) as out. Three players are questionable but all have returned to training and could be available: Villa (knee), Tajouri-Shradi (hamstring), and Jo Inge Berget (quad).
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides more information on NYCFC from Christian Smith, managing editor of SB Nation’s Hudson River Blue.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions, plus a look ahead at Sunday’s match at the LA Galaxy.
- Our Guilherme Torres writes that Orlando City’s central midfield trio could be the important key to unlock a Lions victory tonight.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Earl Edwards Jr.
Defenders: PC, Chris Schuler, Shane O’Neill, RJ Allen.
Defensive Midfielders: Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson.
Attacking Midfielders: Yoshimar Yotún, Sacha Kljestan, Chris Mueller.
Forward: Dom Dwyer.
Bench: Joe Bendik, Scott Sutter, Amro Tarek, Donny Toia, Tony Rocha, Stefano Pinho, Josué Colmán.
New York City FC (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Sean Johnson.
Defenders: Ben Sweat, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm.
Defensive Midfielders: Ebenezer Ofori, Alex Ring.
Attacking Midfielders: Rodney Wallace, Maxi Moralez, Tommy McNamara.
Forwards: Jesus Medina.
Bench: Brad Stuver, , Kwame Awuah, Jonathan Lewis, Jo Inge Berget, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Ronald Matarrita, Sebastian Ibeagha.
Ref: Robert Sibiga.
AR1: Nick Uranga.
AR2: Eric Weisbrod.
4th: Marcos DeOliveira.
VAR: Chris Penso.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8 p.m. ET.
Venue: Orlando City Stadium — Orlando, FL.
TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes USA.
Radio: 96.9 FM The Game (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).
Streaming: Watch ESPN.
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Enjoy the match! Go City!